The protesters were demanding the release of 10 youths arrested after a sit-in at the country's airport in December over the brief detention of a Shia Muslim cleric, Shaikh Muhammad Sanad, as he returned from Iran.
   
A police official said protesters had stormed a shopping mall and vandalised property.
  
"The security personnel had to enter the mall to bring out the rioters and bring the situation back to normal. They arrested some of the rioters," the official told the Bahrain News Agency.
   
Human rights activist Nabil Rajab told Reuters on Saturday officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters after some of them chanted slogans against Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, the prime minister.
   
The least wealthy of the Gulf oil producers, Bahrain has a history of political tension over unemployment and alleged human right abuses.
   
Bahrain, headquarters of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, witnessed political unrest in the 1980s and the 1990s by its Shia majority who were demanding more rights from the Sunni-led government.
   
Since coming to power in 1999, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has introduced some political reforms, including pardoning political prisoners and exiled activists.